|History of Mentoring Latinas / Club Amigas
Dr. Ellen Silber founded Mentoring Latinas (known as Club Amigas by program participants) in 2003 to address the needs of young Latinas, members of the fastest growing population in the United States. Adolescent Latinas have significant possibilities for academic achievement and social growth; yet at present many are at high risk for school failure, mental health problems and substance abuse. Dr. Silber and her colleague, Jeanne Bodin, decided to work on these problems through a special mentoring program. Miriam Quilan, LSCW, joined the staff in 2008.
The program started in the fall of 2003 at Marymount College of Fordham University. Mentors were from Marymount and mentees from Sleepy Hollow Middle School in Tarrytown, New York. The first group consisted of 45 mentees and 18 mentors. The next year Eastview Middle School in White Plains contributed mentees. Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York, and Westchester Community College supplied mentors in the following years, and in the spring of 2007, mentors from Fordham College at Rose Hill mentored students from the Thomas C. Giordano Middle School, MS 45, in the Bronx. With the closing of Marymount, Mentoring Latinas moved its office to Fordham’s Rose Hill campus in 2008.
In 2009, the program expanded to include high school Latinas, and Fordham mentors served students at New World High School as well as at MS 45. A number of New World High School’s mentees were recent arrivals in the United States, a situation that presented its own unique challenges to the program. In 2011-2012, Fordham mentors from both Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses will work with Latinas from Belmont Preparatory High School, Graham Windam Services to Families and Thomas C. Giordano Middle School.
In both middle and high school programs, mentors meet with their mentees on the Fordham Rose Hill Campus weekly from September through May, continuing the relationship in subsequent years where possible.
As a result of Dr. Silber’s publishing her work, two additional Mentoring Latinas programs have been established in the greater New York Area—at Westchester Community College (contact: Tere Wisell, Director of Admissions) and Molloy College on Long Island (contact: Maureen Carey, Professor of Social Work). The program has also spread west. After learning about the program from the internet, Don Fryberger, a senior at Brigham Young University in Idaho, established a Mentoring Latinas group.
To date Mentoring Latinas has served more than 300 mentees and has employed more than 145 Latina college mentors.